instagram stories

3 Ways to Engage Your Audience Using Instagram Stories

When I first started writing this piece, I considered taking it from a “how to” approach for making successful Instagram Stories. Then, I realized that all of this information is readily available on Instagram’s Help page. Regurgitating it in a blog post, which has been done before, may not be as valuable as thinking about the bigger picture, which is: how can brands keep audiences interested and clicking on their Instagram Stories to watch what they’re up to next?

Ask questions using the polling sticker or Emoji Slider

One interactive feature that has long been an Instagram Stories staple is the polling sticker. This sticker, which can be used on photos or videos, allows a brand to ask its audience a question, and users vote with their response.

For example, if you run an ice cream shop, your polling sticker question might ask fans to pick either Oreo or Reese’s as their ice cream topping of choice with a photo of the two ice creams side by side.

Fans vote by clicking either the “Oreo” or “Reese’s” button, which will then provide your brand with some insight into which topping consumers enjoy. Easy enough, right?

The latest update to join the squad is called the Emoji Slider. This sticker is a lot like the polling sticker, but it allows for more responses than the polling sticker’s two options. Choose the scale icon from the sticker tray, write up the question you want to ask, and add it to your photo or video. Then, pick an appropriate Emoji to go with the question.

Let’s go back to pretending we’re the entrepreneur at the ice cream shop. Now you want to know how much your fans love your ice cream cakes. You’d probably wind up choosing an emoji with hearts for eyes that consumers can scale to the left or right to show just how much they enjoy the cakes.

Again, this gives you an even greater insight into what your fans like or don’t like about your services and offerings and allows you to take that information in to make adjustments accordingly.

Related: The 4 Key Pillars of Instagram Success

Have an influencer take over your Instagram Stories

Sure, you can “@” mention the names of other brands, add hashtags and direct users to swipe up for more information and links as a quick call to action in your Stories. But, if you really want your business to make a splash, you might want to consider having an influencer in your industry take over your Stories for a day.

Working with an influencer is always a two-way street in which the brand and influencer both benefit from the partnership. Let’s say you’re a subscription clothing e-commerce business that has already worked with a particular influencer before on regular Instagram feed postings. You’ve established a mutual partnership together (the details of which will vary depending on who you work with) and they helped get your offerings out in front of their audience.

For a takeover, you’ll iron out the details beforehand of the kind of value your brand expects the Stories to provide, and how the influencer plans on structuring their Stories. Perhaps the influencer will offer to do a fashion show using each piece of clothing in the box or invite his or her friends to join in the fun. Or, if they live within close proximity, you may invite the influencer over to your office so they can film a behind the scenes story on what goes into every box with a peek of what’s to come in the next one.

You can lay out a few ground rules, but above all, let the takeover be authentic and creative. The influencer’s fans will then head over to your social pages and website to check out your products and services. If it feels like it’s not in an authentic voice, your audience can tell — and will probably not stick around to view it.

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Stay up-to-date with user trends that make sense for your business

Aside from interactive updates regularly added to Instagram Stories, be mindful of the trends created by Instagram users, too. Templates created by Instagram users can take off in popularity and become spotted in your friends’ accounts.

Earlier this year, artist Martina Martian created the “GIF Challenge” template. Saved to her Instagram account, all you had do to get your challenge of choice was hold down the template and take a screenshot of it. When you opened up Stories, you could pick the saved template from your phone and fill in its blanks. The challenges are essentially “getting to know you” stories that share what your favorite foods, TV shows and celebrity crushes are by filling in the blank with a GIF image (all located under the smiley button in the right hand corner of your smartphone screen).

The GIF challenge went viral and more challenges sprouted up afterwards, like “this or that” challenges. It might not have been created by Instagram, but it was still a big hit with users. Perk up your ears when you see a trend taking off and decide if your business can put its own spin on the idea!

By utilizing Instagram’s interactive polling features, working with influencers and staying up-to-date with trends, your brand can keep audiences interested in your Instagram Stories.

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